Fortescue cuts spending, staff

BILLIONAIRE Andrew Forrest's aggressive iron ore production expansion plans are under a cloud after Fortescue Metals announced it would slash costs and defer development on some its key projects as the strain of tumbling commodity prices on the mining industry - and his company's balance sheet - mounts.

It is understood the miner will slow its long-held ambition of nearly tripling its iron ore production to 155 million tonnes per year by June.

Fortescue said it will slash an unspecified number of jobs and cut back on operating costs immediately in order to save $300 million.

Chief executive Nev Power said Fortescue will defer the development of the Kings deposit within the Solomon mining hub and the full completion of its fourth berth at Herb Elliott Port until iron ore prices return to ''more sustainable levels''.

Fortescue has also slashed its planned capital expenditure this financial year by about a quarter, from $US6.2 billion to $US4.6 billion.